During a recent press conference, Microsoft announced the release of their first tablet product, the Surface. The move comes more than two years after Apple’s release of the iPad. No official release date has been set, but the tablet hints that Microsoft doesn’t have much choice but to diversify themselves outside of their normal PC products.
Apple’s early success with the iPad yet again proved that Microsoft was going to have to reassess their product line, due to the trend-setting innovative power Apple has garnered in the consumer market. The news came as a surprise to many people, thanks to Microsoft’s ambiguous announcement of a press conference concerning a “major announcement.” Microsoft has been a lumbering giant in technology for years now, as shown by its stock growth in the past five years compared to Apple. The announcement of the Surface is a painful reminder that Microsoft is moving increasingly towards a post-PC environment.
More than three-fourths of Apple’s revenue for 2011 was post-PC devices; the products have bolstered Apple’s leverage over Microsoft. The iPad has over 200,000 apps and Apple has already branded itself as the bellwether of post-PC products; this makes it even tougher for Microsoft to make the Surface a hit product, especially because it’s reported that it could run up to $1,000.
Technological specs aside, the tablets were presented as a showcase for the new Windows 8 operating system. While Windows 8 has been highly anticipated, Microsoft is sending the message that someone should buy the tablet because of this feature as opposed to the actual product itself. From a marketing standpoint, the Surface is a new Microsoft product made with a newer Microsoft operating system. From a market standpoint, the Surface was only created to catch up with Microsoft’s late shift towards the mobile trend and uses a new operating system that was only created to cover the previous OS’s mistakes. Not a good look.
The tablet is making up for the lack of capitalization on a new concept. However, while it may not be a product that will scoop up a large percentage of market shares, it will whittle at Apple’s. One major advantage that Microsoft has over Apple’s iPad is Microsoft Office, which will reel in business and scholastic users.
Microsoft has been hit-or-miss with much of their product line when trying to expand their reach into various markets. Xbox, Microsoft’s gaming console, has been an international success while the Zune was a hideous attempt at rivaling the iPod. PC sales are the only aspect in computer technology that Microsoft continues to dominate.
The Surface, entirely a Microsoft product, is a low blow to Microsoft’s vendors who have been loyal to their operating systems and products even since the explosion of Apple technology, notably HP and Dell. If the Surface is Microsoft’s plan to make a shift towards diversifying their mobile products line, they are on the verge of burning bridges in the PC world and entering a volatile market where they have no real previous success at the same time.
Nick Bell is a senior media production student and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.